Passover preparations are always a major challenge for my hands, and this past week posed no exception. To my great advantage, Al readily accepted the role of sous chef, the only way we could do all the cooking in time for the first seder, which we hosted on Friday night.
Since we serve a lot of vegetarian entrees, there was much peeling and cutting and chopping. Staging the meal involves advanced planning and careful timing of what to make a day ahead and what to make within a few hours of serving. Al did most of the prep, and I did the strategy and stirring and seasoning. Our daughters helped with last minute errands and crunch time details. Per usual, we were working right up to the doorbell’s ring. But we made it, the seder was thought-provoking, the meal delicious and enjoyed by all.
Friday night, however, I was totally exhausted when our guests left. My feet were shot from standing all day in the kitchen, and my back ached. My hands, remarkably, were in pretty good shape. Our cousins hosted the second seder on Saturday night, which provided a good respite.
By Sunday, when we hosted another big family meal, I had rested up and was able to do some of the cooking on my own. Indeed, I haven’t done this much in the kitchen since my hands fell apart last summer. I could actually grasp the handle of a French chef’s knife and chop fairly efficiently. I was very careful not overdo, and I have no new digital ulcers, as a result (at least, not yet).
My confidence got another boost on Monday afternoon, when I graduated from my post-surgical occupational therapy. My OT checked my grip strength, compared to our last appointment about a month ago, and the exercises she had given me paid off with a 20 percent improvement. I am well within functional range, which is so encouraging.
All of this means a great deal at this time of year, when my hands seem to be most vulnerable. Though I have not found any definitive research on seasonal patterns in skin ulcers, the spring months are typically my worst. It was around this time last year when my digital ulcers began to go out of control, in part exacerbated by Passover preparations. But the weather definitely has something to do with it—the constant warming and cooling, the dry air from heating systems, the transitions from warm house to not-quite-cold-but-cold-enough outside—all seem to add up to more trouble.
I’m monitoring my fingers very carefully, trying to be mindful and set limits on what I can and cannot do. But it’s always good to discover that the boundaries are wider than I assume. Just like the snow that blanketed the trees Monday morning and was gone by sundown, looks and expectations can be deceiving.
Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.
Image Credit: Syd Wachs